More for Water in Houston

Houston residents will soon be paying more for turning on the tap. City Council voted to raise water and sewer rates by nearly 30-percent for an average household. The vote was not unanimous, but Mayor Annise Parker is confident the action will withstand any legal action that may result. Pat Hernandez has more.

The increase in water and sewer rates is one of the largest in the history of Houston. Three CMs who voted no had concerns that the action would violate city charter provisions that limit rate increases to inflation and population growth. Mayor Annise Parker said she was confident of the city legal department's handling of the matter.

"To reassure everyone and to make sure that there's no cloud on our ability to go forward — I'm a kind of a belt and suspenders type person — we're going to go to a judge preemptively and say bless this, because we don't want to have any doubt for our bond holders that we can accommodate this rate increase."

Surrounding cities that buy water from Houston will see a rate increase. Andy Teas with the Houston Apartment Association says apartment complexes would see a significant increase as well.

"About 70-percent of apartment residents in Houston pay directly for water and sewer, so they will absorb that immediately. Others that have that it included in their rent will see that phased in over time as their leases are renewed."

Mayor Parker thanked council for making a tough decision, but adds an even tougher one is now before them.

"We have major budget issues that we can now turn our attention to, and this allows us to take that item off the table and refocus on the budget that I need to present to council in just a few weeks for the next fiscal year."

Houston homeowners will see their bills go up about 5-dollars and 87-cents, effective in June.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...